So here we are at the start of another week, today we start with the news from the courts at the end of last week, we also republish the link to a TVE 1 news report about timeshare law in Spain and an interview with Eva Gutiérrez from Canarian Legal Alliance. We also highlight a new “claims” company that has just come to our attention.
At the end of last week after publishing out Letter from America, Canarian Legal Alliance published their results for the week. Once again it was a busy week for the courts and the lawyers with no less than 15 new victories on behalf of their clients.
In frame with the most rulings against them was once again Anfi Del Mar, with 10 cases heard by the Court of First Instance of San Bartolomé de Tirajana in Maspalomas. In the High Court of Las Palmas Gran Canaria, Anfi del Mar had 4 appeals rejected and sent back to the lower courts for the execution of sentence.
In Tenerife at the High Court in Santa Cruz, Silverpoint also lost an appeal, with the case being sent back to the Court of First Instance, again for the execution of sentence.
The total amount being returned to clients is a massive 517,056.50€ this amount doe not include legal fees or legal interest that is calculated separately. Contracts were also declared null and void. The infringements of the timeshare laws ranged from contracts over 50 years in duration, floating weeks and points systems plus the taking of payments within the 14 days cooling off period.
Considering the Supreme Court rulings of which there are 129, and the number of cases being found against the timeshare companies at the lower courts, it does make you wonder why the timeshare companies insist on prolonging the process and taking the lost cases to appeal. All we can surmise is that they are trying to delay making any payments as they still believe the courts have interpreted the law incorrectly.
In response to that belief, Inside Timeshare republishes a link to the National Spanish TV Station TVE1, in this news item they look at the Supreme Court rulings and explain why the timeshare companies are being taken to court. In the item, they also interview one of the Senior Lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance Eva Gutiérez. This clip will put you the reader in doubt as to who is telling the truth.
Another new name in the “claims” business has just come to our attention, Refund My Claim with the website:
It was registered on 9 February 2019 with the actual owner and registrar being hidden, the website has been regestered for one year only and is set to expire on 2 February 2020, these are never good signs.
The website itself gives very little information, with no company registration details only the company address, telephone number and email:
53 Fountain Street, Manchester, M2 2AN. Once again this is rented office space with postal and telephone answering service run by Regus, one of the biggest suppliers of serviced and rental office space on long term or daily basis.
On their Home Page, they state, “We are a free advice service that identifies the best Lawyers, Solicitors or Claims management company that best suits you for your claim.” They also explain the “Claims management” is big business in the UK and then go to list all the types of claims they work with including timeshare.
Now considering the age of the website, the lack of company information, no Company House registration and no mention of any lawyers or regulated claims managment company names, makes this is look like a very dodgy set up.
If you are contacted by any company with offers of getting you your money back for any timeshare or holiday club, do your homework before engaging with them. Make sure they are genuine, if you need help or advice on this, then use our contact page and we will be happy to help.
Tomorrow in our Tuesday Slot we publish an article titled How is a Timeshare Point Valued, this has been written by an Industry Insider and we have kept them anonymous as per their wishes. So join us tomorrow for more information and news on the world of timeshare.
Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot article by Irene Parker, who introduces us to Michael Santos, but first, Monday, May 27 was a major holiday in America. Memorial Day honours veterans & soldiers who work to defend even those who may seek to do them harm. Yesterday Inside Timeshare heard from veteran/active duty service member #105 asking about unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Many of the veterans who have reached out to Inside Timeshare are disabled, five from Agent Orange. We hope other members of the military will reach out to us because when buying a primary residence greater disclosure is required. We are reaching out to provide the same for veterans applying for a timeshare loan. Too many have been financially ruined because they believed false promises made by timeshare sales agents. The Free at Last Timeshare Member Support Manual is another tool in our arsenal to fight timeshare corruption.
Meet Michael Santos, no stranger to struggle. Rather than succumb to despair, as many would, Michael faced his challenges head-on. Struggle is struggle. His admitted bad decisions led him to serve 25 years of a 45-year prison sentence. While incarcerated, Michael earned an undergraduate degree in Human Resources Management and a master’s degree. Now he works to serve others in struggle through education, contribution to society, and a support network of people who believe in you.
Michael’s story: 9,135 Days in Prison TEDXConstitutionDrive 2013
I need help. I’m struggling, overwhelmed, with unending calls from infuriated timeshare members, many financially devastated because timeshare sales agents got away with unfair and deceptive sales practices. While top liars earned $1 million or more annually until eventually terminated, family after family described to me how they were lied to. Particularly painful to me are the stories of veterans and active duty service members harmed by timeshare. A timeshare foreclosure can result in the loss of security clearances.
How can I leverage my time and our team’s limited resources?
Enter Michael Santos of Prison Professors, Straight-A Guide Foundation
Continues with Aspiration, Action, Accountability, Awareness of Opportunities, Achievement, and Appreciation of Resources
In addition to offering a sophisticated platform that has been helping the incarcerated work towards release and reentry back into society, Michael teaches adversity skills. The Straight-A Guide Foundation helps 100,000 people every year, teaching people in struggle how to prepare for success.
Employing these same adversity skills, Michael Santos and I developed a timeshare self-help manual to leverage our timeshare team’s efforts, and the efforts of others experienced in the field of timeshare.
Unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices don’t just harm timeshare members. Honest timeshare sales agents, managers, and even an executive or two have expressed their frustration over spotty and inadequate state regulation and a Pollyanna attitude on the part of timeshare lobbyists and developers insisting all is well in timeshare.
Dr Amy Gregory, PhD in Hospitality Management from the University of Central Florida and Masters in International Business Administration from the Thunderbird School of Global Management was a presenter at a 2017 timeshare ARDA World convention. She describes statistics that tell a different timeshare tale, as reported by RedWeek’s chief correspondent, Jeff Weir:
Here are some of Dr Gregory’s findings:
The average rescission rate is 15 per cent (which is identical, ironically, to the daily average percentage of people who buy a timeshare after a sales presentation).
A whopping 85 per cent of all buyers regret their purchase (for money, fear, confusion, intimidation, distrust and other reasons).
Forty-one per cent of buyers never thought they would regret their purchase, but they did;
30 per cent were neutral prior to buying but then regretted it.
Wondering if there is something wrong with me, I contacted timeshare law firms and timeshare exit service providers across the country and learned that they are also frustrated with this “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” media spin strategy on the part of the industry.
Two of the exit companies I contacted reported that they received 3,000 to 3,500 calls a month from people seeking timeshare relief. Both companies said they only accept as clients, less than 200 callers, as the timeshare member must meet their timeshare deceit criteria.
What happens to the 2,800 or so turned away? Even if your only option is to foreclose, thanks to the orchestrated lack of a secondary market, these members need support. As if someone broke into your home, you feel violated, alone. Most begin their call to me with, “I feel so stupid.” I respond that I have heard from a detective who works economic crimes undercover, two counter-terrorism experts, two private detectives, a professor with a PhD in criminology, an ICE agent with an M.S. in Criminal Justice, all describing how they were duped by timeshare sales agents.
If you take the time to listen to the entire 20 minutes of Michael’s Top Ten Surrender Tips before Surrendering to Federal Prison, it’s easy to see how prison adversity skills carry over to timeshare adversity:
Michael’s Ten Tips
Understand your Finances
Develop a Reading Plan
Journal, Write and Publish – Writing is Therapeutic!
Personal Belongings – One Navy veteran charged $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments to credit cards. He lived in fear of losing his home and had to seek advice from a bankruptcy attorney.
Prepare for Communication
Set Your Values and Goals and Create Timelines
Create an Accountability Metric Adhering to Timelines
Quadrant Adjustments Reflecting New Opportunities and Opportunity Costs Visualize/Plan/Prioritize/Execute
Release Plan – Think about your day of release!
Hoping to leverage what I and others have learned, I support the Free at Last Timeshare Support Manual lending what I’ve learned to others. All proceeds from our manual are to be donated to the Straight-A Guide Foundation. Together we will work alongside those in prison or formerly incarcerated to become Free at Last. I’m pretty sure Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. would support our borrowing his prayer.
I think it was Ella Fitzgerald who said her momma told her, “Go out and make something happen. If you’re not going to make something happen – stay out of the way!” Morgan Freeman said it another way:
These self-help groups were launched and subscribed to by doers seeking:
A way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market, and to educate prospective buyers.
15 in the Courts of First Instance against Anfi Del Mar
3 High Court against Anfi Del Mar
2 Court of First Instance against Silverpoint
2 High Court against Silverpoint
1 Court of First Instance against Club La Costa
1 High Court against Holiday Club Finland
All contracts were declared null and void and in most cases, clients received back their legal fees plus legal interest.
The total being returned to clients is a staggering 787,664.00€
Obviously some very happy clients but some very unhappy and embarrassed timeshare companies. Well, they only have themselves to blame!
Do you have any questions about your timeshare purchase, want to know if you have a claim or want to just get out, have you been contacted by a company offering you a service and want to know if they are genuine?
Then use our contact page and get in touch, we will point you in the right direction with the best advice available.
Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week Irene Parker asks the question Wait! What Timeshare Regulations? But first, we have an update on the last 2 weeks of court cases in Spain, these figures came in late Friday afternoon, just a little too late to include in Friday’s Letter from America.
In total, Canarian Legal Alliance has received 38 sentences by various courts in Spain, these have been against 3 of the major players in European timeshare and are broken down as follows.
2 Court of First Instance against Silverpoint in Tenerife
1 Court of First Instance against Club La Costa in Fuengirola, Malaga
In one of the High Court sentences against Anfi, they were also ordered to repay the client the in-house finance including interest, this may just be good news for others who purchased their timeshare using in-house finance. It certainly sets a precedent.
The total amount which will be returned to the clients is an incredible 1,310,533.00 €, plus in most of the cases the return of legal fees and legal interest. All contracts were also declared null and void leaving them all timeshare free.
At least in Spain, there are regulations that protect consumers, so now on with our Tuesday article with Irene.
I enjoyed reading Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run?published by Women Who Money. I agree with the author’s major points, except “regulations being in place to protect timeshare consumers.” Having heard from timeshare members about how easy it is for a timeshare sales agent to dodge a contract rescission period, I wonder if there is any foolproof way to prevent being scammed. Some things, like actual availability, cannot be discerned by reading the contract. My contract said, “You can sell your points. We will not assist you.” The part about no buyers was left out. I was duped by reading the contract.
House, Senate and Assembly Bills are flying across the country. The timeshare PAC ARDA ROC was successful in extracting consumer protection measures out of Arizona HB 2639, as reported by The Courier Daily.
“They’ve got a lobbying presence here and around the country,” added Amanda Rusing who lobbies for the office, “It was very disappointing to have to remove all of the stronger, pro-consumer provisions.”
Timeshare members “voluntarily” contribute approximately $5 million annually to ARDA ROC via maintenance fee invoices. ROC stands for Resort Owners Coalition. Why would any organization oppose offering a buyer 24 hours before signing a perpetual contract with no secondary market? Buyers are told that they have to buy the same day.
We are asking legislation be proposed that would allow the timeshare member 24 hours to review a contract before signing. We understand a member may not want 24 hours to review, so this offer could be waived. This offer should not be buried in the tap, tap, tap, electronic fine print. Members often report being held under duress for up to eight hours by a tag team of agents. Some sales centers take your driver’s license and credit card and won’t give them back.
ARDA ROC introduced legislation in Nevada and Florida that would require those contracting with timeshare exit service providers be given 24 hours to review a timeshare exit service provider contract. This was proposed because they care about their members experiencing deceptive sales practices? Give me a break.
We would think it silly if a bill was proposed requiring those who seek to buy a car be allowed 24 hours before signing a contract. Typically when buying a car, you shop, and a tag team of agents doesn’t gang up on you for hours.
A synopsis of recent Florida, Arizona and Nevada legislation:
Timeshares are regulated by states. Since timeshare buyers typically buy a timeshare in a state other than their state of residence, lawmakers have little incentive to react to non-constituents. Lawmakers need to listen to those who bought a timeshare in their state, not just those who reside in their state.
I found the Woman Who Money article, “Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run?” on Lisa Ann Schreier’s Timeshare Crusader blog. Having worked in the industry for years, Lisa’s knowledge brings a lot to the table. Lisa is the author of Timeshare Vacations for Dummies.
From Women Who Money
Regulations now exist to help protect consumers from high-pressure sales tactics. If you buy a timeshare and quickly regret it, you may have options for getting out of the signed contract.
Timeshare expert and author of Timeshare Vacations for Dummies
“While it is true that each state has a legally mandated rescission period, the fact of the matter is that 99% of purchasers will not read the contract within that time frame. The days of relying on the salesperson for good, solid information are over. Consumers must go into these timeshare sales pitches armed with a litany of questions and be prepared to walk out without purchasing anything if they don’t receive answers that can be pointed out within the contract.”
My husband and I used and enjoyed our timeshare for 25 years with no complaints, questions or Facebook posts. The points-based product does offer greater flexibility. We’re not saying timeshares aren’t good for many, and we know there are many honest sales agents, but I am convinced after hearing from over 800 timeshare members, current and former sales agents, managers and even an executive or two, “pitching heat” is on the upswing.
Timeshare buyers should record their timeshare sales sessions in one-party states where legal. Florida is a two-party state, so you cannot legally record without the other person aware. How is a victim supposed to obtain proof? All our readers’ Florida and Nevada timeshare complaints sent to the Nevada Real Estate Division and Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation were dismissed with “You have no proof.” I would recommend not buying a timeshare in a two-party state.
One of our Supporters, Sheila Brust, has her “Pencil Pitch” denoting the following figures, with an arrow and “save” written alongside:
According to Sheilah, the three-page pencil pitch describes how she would be able to cover all her maintenance fees through point usage. A second and third buyer bought from the same sales agent. The Florida DBPR reviewer told Sheilah that she did not understand the program either until she spoke with the company’s attorney. What chance does the average consumer have if a Florida timeshare reviewer, who has reviewed hundreds, if not thousands of timeshare contracts, did not understand the program until she spoke with the company’s attorney?
As far as proof, 83 Platinum members, who don’t know each other, reported similar to identical complaints, often against repeat offender sales agents. I’m told that constitutes proof as it is a good faith investigation and a reasonable conclusion. We have prepared a 130-page summary which is available upon request if a lawmaker or regulator is interested. We can hope.
We are working on a petition. If you would like to become more involved with our efforts, contact Inside Timeshare. Of the 805 timeshare members who have contacted us, 103 are veterans and active duty services members.
We seek to provide timeshare members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market and to educate prospective buyers.
Thank you, Irene, and also Lisa Ann Schreier for your contribution, if you have any comments or views on any article published, please use our contact page, we would love to hear from you.
If you have been contacted by any company with regards to resale, relinquishment or a claim and you are unsure if they are genuine, again use our contact page and let us know. We will point you in the right direction. Remember, doing your homework will save you in the end from losing your money.